African coffee forum looks at the business case for sustainability

The third African Coffee Sustainability Forum brought together over 300 participants on 13 February in Kampala, Uganda to discuss building a business case for sustainability for the continent's coffee farmers.  The event was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Agriculture in Uganda, Prof Zarubabel Mijumbi Nyiira. The forum is co-organised by the African FIne Coffees Association (AFCA) and the 4C Association, in cooperation with the Sustainable Coffee Program powered by IDH.  The 4C Association said in a statement that this event was set apart by its focus on the business benefits for coffee farmers in their sustainability efforts. The association said that while farmers are recognising the need for sustainable farming practices,  “many are yet to experience its business benefits”, discouraging these efforts.  The event welcomed a cross-section of the coffee chain to discuss the issues. This included civil society representatives from Hanns R. Neumann Foundation, Solidaridad and TechnoServe. On the Industry side, representatives from Mondelez International, Nestlé and Tchibo presented their purchasing plans for sustainably produced coffee. Research institutions included the Coffee Research Foundation from Kenya and the Jimma Agricultural Research Center in Ethiopia, who presented their latest findings on the role of improved coffee varieties. In the statement, 4C Chairman Robert Waggwa Nsibirwa said he was pleased a signal had been sent out to Africa's farmers that their concerns were being noted.  “I always say, improving yields must be the first step to improve sustainability in Africa,” said Nsibirwa. “Barring this, farmers are locked in poverty and have no incentives for sustainable production.” Click here to read more about Nsibirwa's goal to improve yields in Africa in his interview with Global Coffee Review January/February 2013.   

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